Conveyancer versus Solicitor – which one is right for you?
Don Milne, March 2018
Property transactions are one of the biggest deals you’ll make in your lifetime. It involves a lot of meetings, paperwork, planning, and negotiating to reach a settlement that, hopefully, leaves you financially secure. Whether you’re buying or selling a property, teaming up with a licensed conveyancer will boost your chances of getting a great deal. But how do you know when it’s time to approach a conveyancer? Wait too long and you risk delaying the settlement. Start too early and you risk wasting money on unnecessary meetings. The right time to hire one will depend on your circumstances and conditions of the sale.
I’m ready to sell – what next?Before you can put your property on the market, you need to prepare the Contract of Sale and a Vendor’s Statement. In the first meeting, the conveyancer will assess your circumstances and outline the terms and conditions you wish to be included in the Contract of Sale. If your circumstances are unique – for example, you’re selling the property of a deceased estate – then a conveyancer may help you get a Grant of Probate. These extra tasks may cause delays in getting your property on the market. Therefore, it’s a good idea to approach a conveyancer not long after meeting your estate agent and setting a sale price. Do you need help with arranging the discharge of your mortgage with the bank? By meeting early with a conveyancer, they can help you prepare the documentation, and choose a settlement date that doesn’t conflict with your banking obligations. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="690"] If you want to avoid delaying the settlement, you should also approach a conveyancer early to have your obligations with the bank sorted out. Photo courtesy Veda Dante[/caption]
What about buying a property?If you’re in the early stages of buying a property, you’ve probably spent a bit of time researching the market – you may have even expressed interest in a property. As a buyer, it’s never too early to get professional advice from a conveyancer. In fact, by starting early, you have more time to shop around and find one that suits your needs and budget. Have you already been presented with a Contract of Sale? You’ll want a licensed conveyancer to review the documentation before you sign anything. After the review, you’ll have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions and be notified of any issues that need addressing. By meeting a conveyancer early, you have the time to negotiate conditions deemed unfair or unfavourable to your circumstances. If you want to avoid delaying the settlement, you should also approach a conveyancer early to have your obligations with the bank sorted out.
Conveyancer versus Solicitor – which one is right for you?These titles are thrown around often and cause a lot of confusion among customers. While conveyancers and solicitors provide essentially the same service – their expertise of the property market can vary considerably. Basically, conveyancers focus primarily on property law. They provide a range of documentation services and offer advice specific to the property transaction. If you’re buying or selling for the first time and the transaction is fairly simple – a conveyancer is a cost-effective choice. Solicitors also knowledge about property law, but they bring a broader understanding of the law in general. If your transaction is an off the plan purchase, requires subdividing the property or is related to a divorce, then a solicitor can offer advice outside the realm of the property transaction. Ultimately, you should choose a service provider with the knowledge and expertise you need to ensure the transaction goes smoothly.
Understanding your rights and obligationsWhether you’re buying or selling a property, the process can be quite daunting and time-consuming if you’re not prepared. By getting advice from a conveyancer in the early stages, you get a better understanding of your rights and obligations, along with professional guidance to help you reach a successful settlement. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="690"] Whether you’re buying or selling a property, teaming up with a licensed conveyancer will boost your chances of getting a great deal.[/caption]
10 common (and sometimes confusing) conveyancing terms
- Caveat – A legal claim registered on the property title by another person/entity who has a right to the property
- Cooling-off period – A period of three business days from the time of signing the Contract where the Purchaser (the person or entity buying the land) is able to walk away from the Contract without incurring a financial penalty
- Deposit – A sum of money paid as an assurance that the Purchaser is serious about the purchase. The deposit will not be more than 10 per cent
- Easement – A right of use that belongs to someone other than the landowner. This can include pipes and wires connecting services such as sewage, drainage and electricity. It may also refer to shared driveways
- Residue – The difference between the Purchase Price and the Deposit
- Settlement – The date on which the title documents and funds will be swapped between Purchaser and Vendor. This process will transfer the property to the new owner.
- Subject to Finance – A clause in the Contract that states that the purchaser obtain finance of a certain amount by a certain date, otherwise they are released from the Contract
- Section 32 / S32 – The Vendor’s Statement
- Unencumbered – There are no charges on the title of the property, such as a Mortgage or Caveat
- Vendor – The person or entity selling the land
Questions to ask before you engage a conveyancer:
- Are you a member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers?
- What types of property do you specialise in? High-rise apartments? Rural acreage?
- What costs are involved? What are your fees and charges – upfront and at settlement? Are there any hidden costs, such as stamp duty and search fees?
- How will you communicate with me throughout the process, and how often?
- Do you have insurance protection?